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Indies, and elsewhere; and as Thalberg and Soyer are greatest among pianists and cooks, so perhaps are the greatest adepts in this art to be found among the male practitioners;—elsewhere, that is, than in the West Indies. There are to be found ladies never equalled in this art by any effort of manhood. I speak of the science of flirting.
And be it understood that here among these happy islands no idea of impropriety—perhaps remembering some of our starched people at home, I should say criminality-is attached to the pursuit. Young ladies flirt, as they dance and play, or eat and drink, quite as a matter of course. There is no undutiful, unfilial idea of waiting till mamma's back be turned; no uncomfortable fear of papa; no longing for secluded corners, so that the world should not see. The doing of anything that one is ashamed of is bad. But as regards flirting, there is no such doing in the West Indies. Girls flirt not only with the utmost skill, but with the utmost innocence also. Fanny Grey, with her twelve admirers, required no retired corners, no place apart from father, mother, brothers, or sisters. She would perform with all the world around her as some other girl would sing, conscious that in singing she would neither disgrace herself nor her masters.
It may be said that the practice of this accomplishment will often interfere with the course of true love. Perhaps so, but I doubt whether it does not as often assist it. It seemed to me that young ladies do not hang on hand in the West Indies. Marriages are made up there with apparently great satisfaction on both sides; and
the flirting is laid aside-put by, at any rate, till the days of widowhood, should such evil days come. The flirting is as innocent as it is open, and is confined to ladies without husbands.
It is confined to ladies without husbands, but the victims are not bachelors alone. No position, or age, or state of health secures a man from being drawn, now into one and now into another Circean circle, in which he is whirled about, sometimes in a most ridiculous manner, jostled amongst a dozen neighbors, left without power to get out or to plunge further in, pulled back by a skirt at any attempt to escape, repulsed in the front at every struggle made to fight his way through.
Rolling about in these Charybdis pools are, perhaps, oftenest to be seen certain wearers of red coats ; wretches girt with tight sashes, and with gilding on their legs and backs. To and fro they go, bumping against each other without serious injury, but apparently in great discomfort. And then there are black-coated strugglers, with white neck-ties, very valiant in their first efforts, but often to be seen in deep grief, with heads thoroughly submersed. And you may see gray-haired sufferers with short necks, making little useless puffs, puffs which would be so impotent were not Circe merciful to those short-necked : gray-haired sufferers.
If there were, as perhaps there should be, a college in the West Indies, with fellowships and professorships,established with a view of rewarding proficiency in this science–Fanny Grey should certainly be elected warden, or principal, or provost of that college. Her wondrous skill deserves more than mere praise, more than such slight glory as my ephemeral pages can give her. Pretty, laughing, brilliant, clever Fanny Grey! Whose cheeks ever were so pink, whose teeth so white, whose eyes so bright, whose curling locks so raven black! And then who ever smiled as she smiled ? or frowned as she can frown? Sharply goes those brows together, and down beneath the gurgling pool goes the head of the red-coated
wretch, while with momentary joy up pops the head of another, who is received with a momentary smile.
Yes; oh my reader | it is too true, I also have been in that pool, making, indeed, no wilful struggles, attempting no Leander feat of swimming, sucked in as my steps unconsciously strayed too near the dangerous margin; sucked in and then buffeted about, not altogether unmerci. fully when my inaptitude for such struggling was discovered. Yes; I have found myself choking in those Charybdis waters, have glanced into the Circe cave. I have been seen in my insane struggles. But what shame of that? All around me, from the old patriarch dean of the island to the last subaltern fresh from Chatham, were there as well as I.
WHEN I settle out of England, and take to the colonies for good and all, British Guiana shall be the land of my adoption. If I call it Demerara perhaps I shall be better understood. At home there are prejudices against it I know. They say that it is a low, swampy, muddy strip of alluvial soil, infested with rattlesnakes, gallinippers, and musquitoes as big as turkey.cocks; that yellow fever rages there perennially; that the heat is unendurable; that society there is as stagnant as its waters; that men always die as soon as they reach it; and when they live are such: wretched creatures that life is a misfortune. Calumny reports it to have been ruined by the abolition of slavery ; milk of human kindness would forbid the further exportation of Europeans to this white man's grave; and philanthropy, for the good of mankind, would wish to have it drowned beneath its own rivers. There never was a land so ill spoken of—and never one that deserved it so little. All the above calumnies I contradict; and as I lived there for a fortnight-would it could have been a month !I expect to be believed.
If there were but a snug secretaryship vacant thereand these things in Demerara are very snug-how I would invoke the goddess of patronage; how I would nibble round the officials of the Colonial Office; how I would stir up my friends' friends to write little notes to their friends! For Demerara is the Elysium of the tropics—the West Indian happy valley of Rasselas—the
one true and actual Utopia of the Caribbean Seas—the Transatlantic Eden.
The men in Demerara are never angry, and the women are never cross. Life flows along on a perpetual stream of love, smiles, champagne, and small-talk. Everybody has enough of everything. The only persons who do not thrive are the doctors; and for them, as the country affords them so little to do, the local government no doubt provides liberal pensions.
The form of government is a mild despotism, tempered by sugar. The Governor is the father of his people, and the Governor's wife the mother. The colony forms itself into a large family, which gathers itself together peaceably under parental wings. They have no noisy sessions of Parliament as in Jamaica, no money squabbles as in Barbados. A clean bill of health, a surplus in the colonial treasury, a rich soil, a thriving trade, and a happy people—these are the blessings which attend the fortunate man who has cast his lot on this prosperous shore. Such is Demerara as it is made to appear to a stranger.
That custom which prevails there, of sending to all new comers a deputation with invitations to dinner for the period of his sojourn is an excellent institution. It saves a deal of trouble in letters of introduction, economizes one's time, and puts one at once on the mostfavored-nation footing. Some may fancy that they could do better as to the bestowal of their evenings by individual diplomacy; but the matter is so well arranged in Demerara that such people would certainly find themselves in the wrong.
If there be a deficiency in Georgetown-it is hardly necessary to explain that Georgetown is the capital of the province of Demerara, and that Demerara is the centre province in the colony of British Guiana ; or that there